There is only one certainty in life and we know what that is. Rest everything else is randomly uncertain.
Fasih was one of the fittest among his peers, immediate and extended family. It wasn’t by chance. He made a conscious effort to stay fit but without bragging about it. He would climb stairs instead of taking elevator, was an early riser , jog first thing in the morning, even took afternoon naps and ate small meals. He got himself tested often. Never ignored his well being. He never even procrastinated opportunity to enjoy because of any pending work or stress, whether going for a long drive, going out to eat, travelling abroad or even enjoying pruning plants on his terrace garden. Talking with his 4 grey parrots in the morning as he himself cleaned their huge cages, and fed them by hand or playing catch and run with his dog Elmo on the terrace at end of his clinic every evening were his uninterrupted routine.
Buying a new hoodie every few days in winter for Elmo was a must. He would tell him, “Pher phaar di. Baap ka maal hai na.” (Tore it again? Of course its your Dad’s money.).
And Elmo wouldnt listen. And he wouldnt stop getting him a new one.
In subtle and direct ways he showed his concern about all others around him with health challenges.
His cousin avoided coming to clinic because he knew he would ask. “Get your BP checked.”
He would go with his friends to NICVD for their angiography or to a friend Orthopedic Surgeon with another friend who was planning knee replacement.
His cousins and friends who were overweight and sedentary, he would be reminded to exercise and get active.
Retired friends who were going through depression he would say, “Volunteer at Edhi clinic at least. Keep yourself busy with rewarding work.”
He regularly called his friend in Europe, to inquire on his tests, who was recently diagnosed with malignancy and worried for his life.
With me he always checked if I was taking my thyroid meds regularly, if I began jogging or “at least climb stairs”. “Eat well.” “You drink too much coffee.”
He called both kids individually and would advise them to not stress like their mother, and challenges are part of life to be taken in a stride.
Whenever skeptics talked of age as, “Its written” he would reply, “But quality of live you live is in your hands.”
My mother and brothers Hilmi & Subhi were regularly called and checked their well being. He was the go to person for any tests done on Ammi.
Once 4 years ago when Ammi was diagnosed and treated by doctor as “early demetia with depression” he asked my brother, “What are her electrolytes like?”
Apparently the Psychiatrist in Delhi hadn’t tested her blood for 2 years. So when she was tested on Fasih’s request, she turned out to be severely hyponatremic. And the whole diagnosis changed. I reached Delhi, got Ammi admitted, and in 15 days with her Na levels normal, she was back to her alert self. No dementia. No depression. Simply misdiagnosis.
Fasih was angry, “Yeh tumhare Indian trained psychiatrist hain? Change her doctor.” And ultimately started following her up himself remotely. 2 years ago he so wanted to visit Delhi with me. But I got the Visa, but he couldnt. He was very upset.
I had only one worry about Fasih and that was he was too active and being lean had started developing osteopenia. He did take meds, but I told him repeatedly ” you have to slow down. You cant afford to fall”. He knew it. He listened to me, but also knew it was too hard for him to slow down.
11 weeks that he was here in Canada in last 4 months of his life, he really did not have any work, but still wouldn’t sit still. He was restless, as if he had a close deadline.
He loved long drives and we missed no opportunity for that.
He had a curious desire to travel the world by road, so that he didnt miss any part of this earth. We did make several memorable unusual road trips in 30 years together. Last being from Gilgit to Hunza to Khunjerab at China border in June 2019 and Las Vega to Grand Canyons in Sep 2019. But there were many more planned for the future.
It breaks my heart many times each day to imagine, the person who we presumed to be the least at risk health wise, was picked up by the Angel of death, while me a lazy procrastinator is left behind to grieve his loss.
Something my daughter said today made me pause and think…
“Ammi Papa lived a quality and fulfilling life in every way, through his strong physical, mental health and his actions. He absolutely loved what he was doing. He was greatly loved by others too. He always asked for a quality life and God gave him all that.”
I only wish God gave you a bit of extension too. Today is the third Friday without you my dear Syed Fasihuddin.